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Lyon denied by Rennes fightback

By A. Scott

Stade Rennais FC produced a rousing fightback from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Olympique Lyonnais at Roazhon Park on Sunday, dealing a blow to OL’s hopes of finishing second in Ligue 1.

 Stade Rennais FC  2 – 2  Olympique Lyonnais

Lyon looked on course for a sixth win in seven games after goals either side of half-time from the in-form Rachid Ghezzal and Alexandre Lacazette put them firmly in control in Brittany. However, two half-time substitutes turned the game on its head, Fallou Diagne pulling one back before Jérémie Boga equalised eight minutes from time.

Rennes, who have a habit of scoring late goals, have lost just one of their last six games and end the weekend in fifth spot, one point and one place behind Lyon. Bruno Génésio’s side looked on course to close the gap on AS Monaco in second as they chase automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League, but instead remain six points behind the principality club and a point behind OGC Nice in third. They have still won just once on their travels since the winter break.

The match saw Yoann Gourcuff line up against Lyon for the first time since his five-year association with Les Gones ended last summer. For the visitors, the absence of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa due to suspension led to a start in central defence for Bakary Koné, while Jordan Ferri returned in midfield with Clément Grenier on the bench.

Lyon dominated the first half and Lacazette rounded Benoît Costil only to strike the post from a tight angle, before a superbly struck Ghezzal free-kick, which was arrowing towards the top corner, was turned behind by France’s third-choice goalkeeper.

Costil also saved well when Koné headed a Ghezzal corner towards goal, and from the corner that followed, Samuel Umtiti’s header was cleared off the line by Ousmane Dembélé.

Changes pay off

Rennes did grow into the game and even had the bell in the net when Pedro Henrique latched onto Gourcuff’s excellent through ball, only for the offside flag to curtail the celebrations. Dembélé then forced a good save from Anthony Lopes at a free-kick, and Lyon went up the other end to open the scoring.

It was a superb goal, starting with a pass from Sergi Darder out to the left for Maxwell Cornet, whose powerful run into the box eliminated several Rennes defenders before he squared the ball low to the back post for Ghezzal to score.

Lyon looked to have the points sewn up when they doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half. When the Rennes defence only partially cleared a free-kick, Ferri returned the ball first-time into the box and Lacazette got there before Costil to head home his 13th of the season.

Rennes coach Rolland Courbis had made a double change at half-time, Pedro Mendes and Gourcuff making way for Diagne and on-loan Chelsea forward Boga. Diagne reduced the deficit with 20 minutes left, converting a Dembélé corner.

And after Lacazette poked an excellent opening wide, the hosts snatched a draw at the end of a fine encounter thanks to Boga. Teenage sensation Dembélé broke the offside trap before advancing on goal and seeing his shot saved by Lopes, but Boga was on hand to net the follow-up, despite the best efforts of Rafael to clear off the line.

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